So imagine you have a teenage sister who thinks you hang the moon. She wants nothing more in life than to be just as good as you at everything… well, or maybe just a little bit better.
And you’re talking with your little sis and she says, “How old were you when you first had sex?”
Now, you know that whatever you say will be taken not just as information about your life as she catalogues details of your biography for future publication; it will be taken as a mandate, as a moral lesson for when and where and how sex should happen.
So what do you tell her? What do you say? You want to be honest and open, but you don’t want her to think that there’s any one right way for a sex life to develop. You don’t want her to make her sexual decisions based on your experience, you want her to make the choice best for herself and her circumstances.
What do you say?
I think you talk to her about “what counts as sex.” I think you talk to her about the false distinction between “virgin” and “person who has had sex.” I think you talk to her about all the ways that love can be expressed and pleasure can be experienced.
Yes, yes, just a couple days ago I said that defining sex – deciding what counted as sex – was a boring waste of time. Yes, I defended that position in the face of a humblingly well-written definition of sex by guru Heather Corinna. Yes, I am now saying (almost) the opposite.
In my paltry defense, I said that the question, “Is XYZ sex?” is what doesn’t matter, but that’s a precisianistic distinction, the argument of a women whittling her claim down to its smallest possible space in order to skirt the implications of that claim. The fact is that tonight I gave exactly the advice I thought was useless and uninteresting: talk about what it means to “have sex.”
I think, in fact, that a conversation about “what is sex” with your teenage little sis would probably be both extremely useful and extremely interesting to her.